Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed boasts by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah of the terror group’s military strength and ability to defeat Israeli troops Saturday.
In a televised speech Friday marking the anniversary of a 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, Nasrallah claimed that the conflict had helped his groups develop “a military system to defend our villages, towns and cities.”
“If [Israel] enters southern Lebanon… you will see a live broadcast of the destruction of Israeli brigades,” he warned.
He said that the residents of southern Lebanon were now secure and safe from attack due to cooperation between his group, the Lebanese people and the country’s military, though the Lebanese army official denies any cooperation with Hezbollah’s armed wing.
He also claimed Israel “is afraid of hitting Lebanon” due to his organization’s fierce fighting skills.
Netanyahu responded Saturday that “we are not impressed by Nasrallah’s threats.”
“He knows very well why he broadcasts them from the depths of his bunker,” he said in a statement distributed via WhatsApp.
Nasrallah is rarely seen in public and is thought to be in hiding out of fear of Israeli assassination attempts.
In a 2014 interview Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper, he said that he regularly switched sleeping places, particularly since the 2006 war, but denied that he lived in hiding.
“I don’t live in a bunker,” he said. “The point of security measures is that movement be kept secret, but that doesn’t stop me from moving around and seeing what is happening.”
The terror leader on Friday also praised a string of recent terror attacks in the West Bank carried out by so-called lone-wolf assailants, saying the young perpetrators were “the future” of Palestinian resistance against Israel.
“A few days ago there was an attempt to abduct an Israeli soldier” he said, in an apparent reference to the murder of off-duty soldier Dvir Sorek. “They didn’t manage to abduct him so they killed him,” he said. Israeli authorities initially suspected the killing may have been a botched kidnapping, but later ruled that out.
Nasrallah also noted a Friday car-ramming attack in the West Bank in which two siblings were hurt, one critically, and a stabbing attack on a policeman in Jerusalem’s Old City a day earlier.
In both attacks the assailants were shot dead.
“This is an important development. This is the future generation of Palestine and the resistance,” he said.
Nasrallah often makes bluster-filled speeches. Last month amid tensions between the US and Iran, he warned Israel could be “wiped out” in any conflict that erupts. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned in response that Israel would deal a “crushing” blow to Lebanon if it attacks.
While the sides often trade bombastic barbs, the Israel-Lebanon border has remained mostly calm since the end of the 2006 war, when a a UN peacekeeping force was put in place.
However, Israel has long warned that Hezbollah plans to try and invade northern Israel in any future war and earlier this year uncovered several attack tunnels built deep into Israel that were supposed to allow its fighters to enter into Israel.